Steven Cozza has recovered from the parasitic and yeast infections which forced him to miss the Amgen Tour of California. The Team NetApp rider says he is “now fit to race and very excited to get back in the action” at the Ster ZLM Toer in the Netherlands this week.
“I feel good. I took my recovery and treatment seriously and am doing everything I can to be healthy again,” he told Cyclingnews.
The German Professional Continental team specifically signed the American rider for this season with an eye to the Tour of California. However, he did not feel well all season and the diagnosis of his illness was made only shortly before the Tour.
Cozza explained that the official diagnosis was “Infectious gastroenteritis caused by a documented parasitic and secondary yeast infection of the intestines called Candida Albicans.” Or, in plain English, “I picked up a parasite somewhere and it caused havoc in my digestive tract.”
He was off the bike for two weeks, mainly because the anti-parasitic medicine left him “too weak to ride. After that my coach had me starting to build back up as if my season started over again. I am now fit to race and very excited to get back in the action.”
In addition to the drugs, he was put on a special diet, which he knows will be difficult to follow while racing. “I had to eliminate all sugars from my diet including fruit. I have now gone 2 months without sugar. For the first two weeks I only ate vegetables and meat. Now I can have gluten-free carbohydrates but only complex ones like brown rice, millet, and quinoa,” Cozza explained.
“At the races this diet will be almost impossible to continue but I will do my best. I also have been making my own training food. I grind up my own brown rice, millet and quinoa flour and make my own yeast free bread and energy bars.”
“The parasite has been eliminated but I need to continue eating like this until I am certain the Candida is at normal levels and the good bacteria is back to normal levels again. I am supplanting with lots of probiotics and other vitamins to help restore balance in my digestive tract.”
Back in action in at the Ster ZLM Toer
He is returning to action this week at the Ster ZLM Toer, the former Ster Elektrotoer, where he hopes to payback his team for their support. “NetApp has been so supportive of me and my recovery and I feel I owe it to them. My goals are modest for the moment but I'd like to get stronger as the race goes on. I am not putting any limitations on myself and only want to do my best. I hope that attitude will bring me success. I want to fight my way back into racing well again and I pray my body is back on track.”
The 26-year-old would then “really like to perform well at the Tour of Austria and in all of the end of the season races. I think July, August and September will be good months for me and I'd like to end the 2011 season strong to give me much needed confidence for 2012. “